A Passage to India
Race Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
The remark that did [Fielding] most harm at the club was a silly aside to the effect that the so-called white races are really pinko-grey. He only said this to be cheery, he did not realize that "white" has no more to do with a colour than "God save the King" with a god, and that it is the height of impropriety to consider what it does connote. (1.6.2)
Fielding's remark gets him into trouble because he challenges the superiority of the white European. The racial superiority of the whites are taken as such a given, as gospel even, that to question it in any way – or to make light of it – is considered sacrilegious.
"[…] Aziz was exquisitely dressed, from tie-pin to spats, but he had forgotten his back collar-stud, and there you have the Indian all over: inattention to detail, the fundamental slackness that reveals the race […]" (1.8.12)
Ronny's racism makes him jump to conclusions. We know from earlier in the novel that Aziz is missing his collar stud because Fielding needed one; Aziz was just being a good friend. But Ronny just assumes that Aziz is acting according to the stereotype of the lazy native.
[Aziz's] mind here was hard and direct, though not brutal. He had learnt all he needed concerning his own constitution many years ago, thanks to the social order into which he had been born, and when he came to study medicine, he was repelled by the pedantry and fuss with which Europe tabulates the facts of sex. (1.9.17)
Here, the narrator is speaking, not an individual character, so it gives us some insight into the novel's attitude toward race. What is interesting about this passage is that the novel seems to agree with the stereotype of the "Oriental" as being more in touch with his sexuality than the British. Which brings up the further question of whether the novel has its own racist baggage to deal with…